Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Novikov falls in French Open qualifying; Bellis to play

   Dennis Novikov had a tough assignment in his French Open debut.
   The 21-year-old San Jose resident lost to No. 31 seed Facundo Arguello, who grew up playing on clay in Argentina, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 today in the first round of qualifying in Paris.
   American men, most of whom have little clay-court experience, won only two of eight completed matches.
   One of the victories was especially notable. Eighteen-year-old Jared Donaldson, who trained on clay in Buenos Aires for 2 1/2 years, demolished top-seeded Hyeon Chung of South Korea 60 61 in a matchup of top teenage prospects. Donaldson, a semifinalist in the Napa Challenger and quarterfinalist in the Sacramento Challenger last fall, is 18, and Chung is 19.
   Also, Jason Jung outlasted Andrej Martin of Slovakia 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5.
   Bjorn Fratangelo, a quarterfinalist in the Sacramento and Tiburon Challengers last October, led Alex Bolt of Australia 6-4 when play was suspended for the night. Fratangelo in 2011 joined John McEnroe (1977) as the only Americans in the Open era to win the French Open junior boys title.
   Besides Novikov, Americans who fell were 16th-seeded Austin Krajicek, 30th-seeded Denis Kudla, Jarmere Jenkins, Mitchell Krueger and Chase Buchanan.
   Women's qualifying begins on Wednesday. CiCi Bellis, a 16-year-old sensation from Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, is scheduled to face Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay. Also, Maria Sanchez, 25, from Modesto, is set to play Risa Ozaki of Japan.
   Bellis, who stunned 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of last year's U.S. Open, is another exception to the clay-court rule for Americans. She lives near the Burlingame Country Club, which has one of the few clay courts in Northern California, and has trained extensively on clay in Florida.
   It will be Bellis' first women's match in the French Open. She reached last year's junior girls doubles final at Roland Garros with Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. They lost to Romanians Ioana Ducu and Ioana Rosca 6-1, 5-7 [11-9].

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